Caesarean section births are at an all time high. Might simulation training ensure better outcomes?

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Quality of care ... is an important consideration in the analysis of caesarean section rates and mortality...(WHO Statement on Caesarean Section Rates,  April 10,  2015)

Incorporating a simulation model into [caesarean section] training provides a safe, low-stress environment in which students can gain skills... (Advances in Medical Education and Practice Journal,  December 2010)

Data attests to the current worldwide rate of caesarean section births as beyond 15%. The World Health Organization recommends an "ideal rate" between 10% and 15%.

In 2015, WHO issued a call to reduce the number of unnecessary C-sections, stating that overuse of the procedure may jeopardize the health of women and their babies. Caesarian section birth -- surgery in which an incision is made through a pregnant woman's abdominal wall and uterus to deliver a baby -- may be medically necessary for a host of valid reasons (i.e., life-threatening obstetrical emergencies; situations when vaginal delivery is neither safe nor feasible). Other times, the procedure may be scheduled as a matter of personal choice. 

Regardless of the conditions that result in a C-section, it is surgery that is not without risk, having the potential to inflict grave and long term complications. Expert assistance by well-trained clinical teams is required to minimize patient mortality and morbidity. 

This begs the question: Is simply lowering the number of c-sections the absolute, best solution? Or, might there be other alternatives that can provide women with both the birthing options they want, and the quality of care they deserve?

Study: Simulation-Based Learning in Caesarean Technique

There is pressing need for inter-professional training that can prepare maternal care teams to respond to obstetrical emergencies which require rapid response, technical skills, teamwork and effective communication. Simulation training in obstetrics ffers learners experiential training for improved quality of care and safety of women and newborns.

In a peer-reviewed research study to determine the effectiveness of teaching obstetrical skills using a caesarean simulator (documented in the Dec. 2010 issue of Advances in Medical Education and Practice ), students who received training with a simulator were "significantly more likely to define the steps of cesarean section (91% vs 61.5%), and were comfortable in assisting cesarean section (100% vs 46.15%) as they were able to identify the layers of abdomen opened during cesarean section."

All students in the simulator group self-reported their participation as being a favorable experience.

Realistic, Hands-On Practice in Obstetrical Emergencies

The CAE Lucina Maternal Fetal Simulator was developed for clinicians and interprofessional teams who manage normal deliveries as well as childbirth complications and obstetrical emergencies. The birthing simulator is the only simulator that comes with static cervices and a dynamic cervix to represent all stages of dilation, effacement and station. Lucina offers reliable, realistic training for childbirth maneuvers and emergency response when time is short and teamwork is essential.  

Built on a revolutionary hardware and software platform with realistic skin, limb articulation, and measurable vital signs for both fetus and mother, Lucina provides training opportunities for teams to become optimally-trained and better prepared to handle a range of delivery scenarios, including

  • normal deliveries
  • instrumental vaginal deliveries
  • breech deliveries
  • shoulder dystocia
  • caesarean section births, and more

Final Thoughts on Optimal Maternity Patient Care

Professor James Walker, consultant obstetrician at St James's University Hospital in Leeds and spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, once said (in a 2010 interview with The BBC) that setting a target rate for Caesarean births might not be all that beneficial.

"If you set a target, then people focus on that target," he said. "What we should be doing is giving optimal care to the mother. "

Read the 2015 WHO Statement on Caesarean Section Rates   

Contact CAE Healthcare to explore the many benefits of simulation-based education, patient simulators and learning solutions that contribute to improved patient outcomes.